Fear not, tOMoH is not about to start doing systematical, lengthy comparisons of similar whiskies. For this once, though, it is a good opportunity to clear some of the samples and almost empty bottles taking up valuable shelf space. With a bit of luck, that will be rather pleasant. Let me have them from oldest to youngest too, because why the hell not?
Bunnahabhain 42yo 1968/2011 (43.8%, Whisky-Fässle/Whiskybase.com, Refill Sherry Cask): one last chance to give this one proper notes, as the bottle is now empty (sniff). Nose: a dunnage warehouse, slightly burnt apricot compote, old staves, dried marzipan cake, a dusty bookshelf. Later, it is apricot juice, augmented with a splash of squeezed grapefruit. There might also be a gently coastal note (sea spray? Grilled whelk?), but it is so discreet, it is hardly worth mentioning. Walnuts, not fully ripe, walnut stain, green hazelnut, fishing nets, after they have been rinsed with fresh water. Coming back to it at the end of the session, the nose smells of breakfast lassi (yogurt, banana, mango, rose water, coconut), complete with cardamom powder. It also has lukewarm custard and melting marzipan. Mouth: gentle brine, caramelised apricot compote, a salty breeze. It is more lively than the ABV would suggest. Fruit stone, polished furniture, rhubarb jam, cranberries, yellow peppers (!!) and an unsuspected amount of spices (white pepper and ginger, mostly). After the other five drams, the mouth becomes silky, with almond milk and delicate citrus. Finish: yippee! Apricot, peach (with the stone), brine, sea breeze, well-polished mahogany cabinets, green hazelnut, walnut stain; it has the gentle bitterness of flower stems, or unripe nuts, which is surprising, for a whisky of that age. Despite having lost a bit of its fruitiness (there was hardly any liquid left in the bottle for the past two months), it is still excellent. Coming back to it as a nightcap, the finish has turned herbaceous, with thyme and sage in almond milk, gentian (without the almost metallic bitterness), lukewarm lassi, coconut cream, lemongrass. I have to say that, after breathing for a couple of hours, it has become even better. 10/10
Bunnahabhain 40yo 1972/2012 (44.6%, Cumbrae Supply Company The Golden Cask, C#CM184, 346b): nose: dry hay, cereals -- it is almost porridge-y, this one. It has a whiff of paint thinner thrown in for good measure, very dry leather (read: a faded saddle). This seems to lack complexity, for a dram of that age. Forsythia? Cut, green hazel tree? Long-aged, smoked ham? After the first sip, the nose becomes more maritime, with a boat's deck, washed by the sea and the wind. Much later on, mothballs come up too. Mouth: fresh as white wine, though it is a wine that has almost turned into vinegar: it is acidic, probably more so than I would prefer. It also has some fruity tones (green grapes) and a splash of gherkin brine. Despite the acidity, the texture is milky. As for the nose, the more one drinks it, the more it changes. The second sip brings more sea-related flavours: cockles, clams, wet fishing nets, though the dominant remains white wine -- des moules, des frites et du vin de Moselle, then (mussels, chips and wine from the Moselle valley). Finish: the acidic note is still very present, almost completely drowning the otherwise pleasant green-grape-juice touch. This is very close to a white wine, which I find puzzling. An ok dram. The pedigree had me hoping for better. 7/10 (thanks LM for the sample)
Bunnahabhain 24yo 1990/2015 (46%, The Vintage Malt Whisky The Coopers Choice, Hogshead, C#7401, 320b): nose: a leather saddle and an open bottle of rum in the captain's cabin, on a galleon. The cabin has a bookshelf, a lacquered, wooden table, yet the sea air is everywhere. Roasted potatoes, with mushrooms and bacon, fried onions and garlic, old cork, soaked with the very liquid it was meant to protect. Mouth: sizzling bacon, then gently smoked seafood comes in too -- whelk, clams, prawns, the whole served with a white-wine sauce. It becomes sweeter in the mouth, with juicy green grapes and unripe peach (i.e. slightly bitter). Finish: the green grapes continue their jig for a few seconds, then white chocolate takes over, sweet and unctuous. The bitter note remains, surprisingly enough -- grape pips? 7/10 (thanks LM for the sample)
Bunnahabhain 24yo 1989/2014 (50.1%, The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 The Warehouse Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, C#5696, 267b): nose: this could hardly be more different! This time, it is the smoking room of a gentlemen's club, with Virginia tobacco, empty pipes, chesterfield sofas and an old-fashioned, tartan rug. It also gives out notes of cured ham, leather shoes and a polished dashboard (walnut veneer). If there are fruits, it is nuts, rather than apples from the orchard. Two sips in, fruits do come up: apple, quince, lemon, satsuma and tangerine. It smells creamy too. Mouth: It is creamy. Apricot jam, lemon curd, quince jelly. How a palate can be so different from a nose is anyone's guess. Creamy, fruity and very gently smokey -- it is closer to a coal-powered cooker, than to a campfire, if you follow my drift. Finish: velvety, almost syrupy, fruity again. It has more apricot jam, apricot pie, a dash of orange blossom water, rose petals, chutney, and at last, the Virginia tobacco makes a comeback. It even finishes with a puff of smoke from the coal stove. What an interesting dram! 8/10 (thanks LM for the sample)
Bunnahabhain 22yo 1991/2013 (51.7%, Cumbrae Supply Company The Golden Cask, Bourbon Cask, C#CM196): nose: again, very different to the previous. Super-dry wood, burnt cork, then, out of nowhere, Brazil nuts join in for a bit of samba di Janeiro and some futchebol action. Asian cuisine soon takes over, with kimchee and sriracha sauce, before it goes back to more "traditional" scents: old staves, gentle brine, pickled pearl onions. Later, the nose settles for overripe apples, caressed by sea spray. Mouth: salty at first, it is silky at the same time. White fish with a thick tartare sauce. Green grapes show up to give the mouth a fruity touch and a balanced, acidic aspect. Walnut eau-de-vie, perhaps? It is too hot to be liqueur. Walnut vinegar? Finish: an explosion of fruit (green grapes), wood (oak casks) and salty fish, with a generous twist of the black-pepper mill. How strange! Complex and unusual, very good! 8/10 (thanks LM for the sample)
Bunnahabhain 22yo 1991/2013 (50.8%, The Whisky Warehouse No. 8 The Warehouse Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, C#3074, 256b): nose: this immediately smells of an ex-wine cask, with tons of leather and sauce grand-veneur. Further on, spent cigar stubs, damp with saliva. Further on, still, it is caramelised lemon pie, lemon chutney with nigella seeds and black cardamom. There is a weird addition I cannot identify -- likely brand-new rubber gloves, or the rubber joints on a new car's doors. Mouth: lemon pie to the Death! This is most unexpected, extremely citrus-y (kumquat, pomelo, lime and lemon) and sweet -- as if cane sugar was added to balance the citrus's acidity. Proper limoncello with bollocks, this. Finish: short, but again, a citrus bomb -- pomelo, lime, lemon, kumquat and nectarine shine, alongside a distant note of leather belts. The whole sparkles on the tongue like a good orangeade. Not the most complex to hit this palate tonight, yet likely the one that provides the most immediate gratification. 9/10 (thanks LM for the sample)
Let us call this a session. I had one last one in mind, but I feel it is better to keep it for another time.
Superb little tasting, with unexpected variety, which kept things interesting throughout. The slice of banana bread that followed was very nice too, thank you for asking.